Fable 2 is a fantasic game, but you'll have to forgive several flaws along the way.
standarddamage wrote this review on .
Whatever you want your character to become, you can have it all and a bag of chips. Want your character to be a chaste magic-wielding monk who is quiet and reserved? You can have it. Want your character to be an evil tyrant who slaughters everything in his site? You can have it. Want your character to be a swordmaster who farts in polite company and eventually ends up getting a sex change? Yes, believe it or not, you can literally have it if that's what you want.
Everything here is about choices and development, and everything in the game grows and changes with you. There's a laundry list of things you can do: become a landlord, go on dates, get married (to more than one wife if you prefer), have kids, kill innocents, steal, read, be an interior decorator, get your hair cut and dyed, dye your clothes, go shopping...and this is just what you do in your spare time.
It's the attention to detail and how it plays out that makes it so enjoyable and replayable, and the atmosphere never gets too heavy. Comic relief might come in the form of the off-hand joke or the passing chicken you just punted into next week. No matter what it is, it will give you some reprieve from the heavier storyline aspects, and helps keep it from collapsing under its own weight.
With all of this attention being paid to everything you could fiddle around with, you would think the main quest would suffer as a result. Not here. It's as epic an adventure as it should be (an anti-climatic ending not withstanding), and intertwines with all of the aforementioned day-to-day activities very nicely. It should be noted that things like taking care of your spouse and children, keeping your home, and other miscellaneous activities never becomes a pain, either. You'll never have to stop questing just to go change diapers, for example. The whole mechanic is very well balanced.
Much like its own premise, however, the game is two-sided in that it technically falls short in a lot of ways, as the final product comes loaded with bugs and technical shortcomings that are impossible to ignore and detract from the overall game experience.
Graphically speaking, Fable 2 is no better than average when at its best, and disastrous when at its worst. While it has some gorgeous lighting effects and an art style that really enhances that mystical, storybook feel, everything else is pretty much a wash. Characters and enemies are particularly bad in this regard, as they're stiff and have no sense of gravity whatsoever. It's even worse when they talk, as their jaws are pretty much on a hinge. So what you end up with are a bunch of astronaut muppets, and its more than a little distracting.
You'll also run into a few problems with the sound. They nailed the voice acting and the soundtrack, but the sound doesn't move with you. If someone is talking right in front of you and you turn the camera to left, the sound will stay right in front of you in terms of what comes out of your speakers. It's not so bad in when conversing with villagers, but its an absolute mess when you're trying to track an enemy with audible clues.
It also suffers from the same plague that many RPG games do: All of the non-player characters walk around and say the same things over and over again. And it will reach the point where you'll find yourself running past villagers just to avoid having yet another repetitive conversation, because it's either that or tear out your eardrums with a corkscrew.
You should also know that the map system was designed by panel consisting of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Helen Keller. It's useless when it comes to finding anything more than the closest blacksmith (or pub) and really does nothing more than give you a general sense of direction. Try doing repeated fetch quests from memory and see how long it takes before the frustration sets in.
But beyond all of these problems, the worst are the bugs which come in all varieties from regular to extra crispy. There really are some very bizarre things that happen during gameplay that leave you wondering if your 360 is just screwing with you.
For example, you can play entire missions with where your head stretches across the entire screen. At another point, it will tell you that you're in a certain area when you're not, and then start running through all of the different locations you've visited over the past hour until it catches up to where you're currently standing. Several times your dog's head will appear disconnected from its body, as the collar only shows the background behind it (as opposed to the collar itself). Some of the best bugs, however, are the "easy" missions you're given. And by easy I mean that you do nothing more than show up where the quest is supposed to begin, and it tells you you've completed the quest before you even lift a finger. You get robbed of the fun (and in some cases, hilarity) of finishing the mission on your own.
Don't feel that you have to avoid the game altogether because of all these issues, as many of these will not happen frequently enough to ruin the experience. Just be warned that there are problems before you go out and purchase the game. There is a definite lack of polish here, and why Lionhead took all of the time and loving care to develop Fable 2's personality and then ignored everything that would have completed the immersion and really given it a truly epic feel is completely beyond comprehension. You get the feeling that someone pushed this out the door before it was finished.
So as it stands, both RPG and Adventure gamers will love this game as there's so much you can do and become. As a matter of fact, it's this aspect that not only saves the game from its downfalls, but also adds a lot of replay value. The fact that you can not only end up being a different person, but also living in a completely different world is a major draw for this one. Just remember you'll have to forgive a few flaws along the way.